Too often, one thing gets overlooked in the beginning stages of the design process: window shades. To get the most out of shades, don’t wait until the end of the design process to think about them. Instead, consider them early on, when windows, curtain wall, and HVAC are being planned. The sooner in the process you start planning for shades, the more impact they will have.

Here are five questions to ask yourself at the very beginning of the design process to make sure you’re getting the most out of shades:

1.) How will shades interact with other specified systems?
Window shades synergize with other systems to improve building operation and performance. Motors and control choice can impact electrical wiring, building management systems (BMS), lighting, security, and audiovisual systems.

Shade hardware such as brackets, fascia, headboxes, and channels, can affect acoustical ceilings, perimeter trims, and mullions.

The shade cloth combines with window glass to have an impact on solar heat gain, affecting the HVAC system.

2.) What will the space be used for?
To get the most out of shades, every type of space requires its own shading solution. For example:

  • For healthcare facilities, choose shades with Phifer fabrics containing Microban antimicrobial protection. Microban is infused in the fabrics during the manufacturing process, and inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew. These shade fabrics meet ASTM E 2180, ASTM G21, AATCC30 Part 3, ASTM D 3273, and GREENGUARD Mold and Bacteria Standard ASTM 6329.
  • For schools, spring roller shades or bead chain clutch operators in rooms where children will be able to reach them should be specified with a cordless hembar or an ANSI/WCMA A100.1 compliant spring-loaded chain tensioner for child safety. Our Mermet and Phifer fabrics are Greenguard and Greenguard Gold certified for low chemical emissions into the indoor air.
  • Office buildings typically feature a lot of glass on their facades. In such settings where people are working on computers and other devices, shades affect productivity and worker comfort. Lighter shade colors provide better heat control and privacy, while darker colors cut glare to provide a pleasing view to the outside even when down. There are duplex fabrics that are light on the street side and dark on the room side to provide the best of both worlds.

3.) Who will be using the space?
It’s also important to consider the people who will be interacting with the shades.

Physicians and others who require privacy for their work may prefer to have blackout shades. Employees working after dark might also prefer blackout shades or a tighter, directional weave for privacy. Basket weaves not only preserve views to the outside, but can allow people outside to see in.

Are there medical issues to consider? We offer shades with fabrics that have the Seal of Approval from the Melanoma International Foundation (MIF) for effectiveness in preventing sun damage to the skin or eyes.

4.) Where will the shades be in relation to the sun?
Fabrics like E Screen offer a large range of openness factors, allowing the specifier to adjust light filtration levels for each façade, while keeping consistency of color and weave from room to room.

On those windows facing the sun at various times of the day, use the more reflective light colors or E Screen with KoolBlack technology, which allows darker colors to perform like light colors when it comes to heat gain. These windows will also more greatly benefit from being connected to a solar tracking system to keep them properly deployed for maximum effect.

5.) Is sustainability a major goal of the design?
Sustainability is an important factor in design, and shades can play a role there, as well.

Draper can provide shades with Mermet’s GreenScreen® Evolve™ and Revive fabrics. Evolve and Revive are both Cradle-to-Cradle Certified™ Bronze and contain Repreve® fibers, made from 100% recycled post-industrial and consumer plastic waste.

Shades using Phifer SheerWeave fabrics made with Ecolibrium are an answer to concerns over the presence of chemicals known as phthalates in shade fabrics. There is concern about phthalates because of their toxicity. DOW ECOLIBRIUM™—a bio-based plasticizer—is a renewable, phthalate-free alternative, offering a more sustainable option, while having the same great performance and feel of current materials. Using this bio-based plasticizer in shade material cuts greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 40% versus existing PVC compounds. Since it’s mostly from non-fossil fuel-based feed stock, there’s a much lower carbon footprint, as well.

Draper also powder coats our shade hardware. Powder coatings contain no solvents and release little or no volatile organic compounds (VOC). It’s also a more efficient process. Most powder coatings are not defined as hazardous waste by the Resources Conservation and Recover Act (RCRA), so most states allow the same disposal methods as for non-hazardous industrial wastes.

These are just a few examples of how considering shades earlier in the process can have a real impact on your overall design goals. For even more ideas, click here to go to our contact page and find your Draper representative.

You can also go to our website and hover over the “Shading & Solar Control” heading for more information.